Lesbian Interfaith Couple – Future Jewish children

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This topic has 4 voices, contains 3 replies, and was last updated by  Jodi 1228 days ago.

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November 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm #5266

jbee70

Hello,
If you want a diversity story, mine will interest you!
Please peacefully offer your thoughts on what I am about to ask.

My partner and I have been together for 8 years and had a union ceremony almost two years ago. I was raised without organized religion. I was raised with an understanding of all religions and beliefs, however we were an Italian (non-practicing) Catholic family in our history, so we always celebrated Christmas  and Easter as well as lighting a menorah for Hanukkah, even though no one in our family was Jewish.
I believe in Jesus, however I have studied spirituality and as an adult have preferred not to join any organized religion. I am comfortable and very at peace with this, I feel I have a strong connection to the Creator, I pray, meditate, and live an honest life of integrity. I do not prefer to attend services of any kind, and I have strong feelings about rigid religious teachings while I respect those who find comfort in them.
I had always planned on raising my children the way I was raised, until of course I fell in love with my partner and gave the subject alot more consideration.
My partner was raised in a devout Catholic family, however she has converted to Judaism in the last 2 years. She finds peace in organized religion and ritual, as well as attending services. I respect and admire her passion for her beliefs, and I support her in them. I ask questions and have done alot of reading about the Jewish faith in order to better understand the things that she loves.
Now comes the question of children.
I would like for our children to be raised Jewish because I do know how important it is to my partner. In addition, the anonymous donor that we are using to become pregnant happens to be Jewish. Works out perfectly, really.
We have discussed some of this, and agreed that I will still share my traditions of Christmas with the kids and since I am not a practicing ANYTHING, it will be easy for them to know my beliefs without it conflicting with theirs. As my partner and I have joked; Jesus was a Jew. It works!
I have (perhaps an unfounded?) concern about keeping Kosher, however.
In my life, I have had a strong aversion to anything that a religion may teach as a strict “rule” (beyond the rules that teach about love, acceptance, and to not harm others or do bad things to people!) I have issues about the Kosher laws. While I respect many of them and I like the fact that the laws promote non-cruelty to animals etc, I just have a hard time with the idea of having our home be so regimented that we have to have seperate utensils, pots, dishes, etc for dairy and meat, and the added expense and inconvenience that keeping Kosher poses. In the core of my being, I have a hard time with the rule of eating only the Kosher way “because G-d says so”. I want so much to support my partner in this, but how can I do it when it is just so drastically against what feels right for me?
We still have to have discussions on how to handle going to dinner at my mom’s house, or to friends houses. I am hoping that we can be flexible in the world, as we do not have a large family (its actually very small), and my mother has waited for many years to be a grandmother so I do not want her to have to restrict what she does for our children as far as cooking meals on holidays etc. I am 40 years old so we have waited so long for this. I don’t want anyone to feel “put out” by our Kosher rule and I want to somehow be true to my own beliefs. Is that at all possible??
Would love ideas. Thank you!

December 1, 2010 at 9:19 pm #5274

Benjamin Maron

jbee70:

Many of us find a balance between keeping kosher and still joining the broader community for meals. Food is such a big part of being social!

Some find that keeping kosher at home is important, while eating out is more relaxed. People follow this differently. Amongst my friends that keep kosher at home, some eat out by

[list]
[*] – only eating in kosher restaurants and homes;[/*]
[*] – only eating in strictly vegetarian or vegan restaurants and homes when kosher restaurants aren’t available;[/*]
[*] – only eating cold (not cooked) food in non-kosher restaurants and homes when kosher restaurants aren’t available;[/*]
[*] – only eating vegetarian or dairy food in non-kosher restaurants and homes when kosher restaurants aren’t available;[/*]
[*] – eating anything but meat in non-kosher restaurants and homes;[/*]
[*] – eating anything/everything in a restaurant or home regardless of whether or not it’s kosher.[/*][/list]
And by “when kosher restaurants aren’t available” I mean both “when they don’t exist” and also “when they’re sick of that one kosher restaurant in town.” (And I’m sure I’m missing options in that list.)

The point is, in our modern world there are many understandings of kashrut, how to keep kosher, and people find many different ways to make it work for them.

Dinners at your mom’s house or at friends’ houses could fit under the above scenarios. I know when I go to my father’s home (he doesn’t keep kosher), I will eat the vegetarian food he prepares. And on a past extended visit, I kashered some of his glass dishes and brought along a pyrex casserole dish so that I could cook while there and more fully enjoy meals with him.

When you host meals, your guests really won’t notice the difference, they won’t feel “put out.”

It’s possible for you to support your partner in this while also balancing your wants for including your family and friends (and your own beliefs!). Start talking about it with your partner and see what you come up with. And remember: religion and belief is a journey; what your partner holds by today might not be the same as what she holds by next year or 5 years from now. (I know I’m more willing to be flexible with where I eat out than I once was.)

December 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm #5278

Debbie B.

jbee70,

You should probably talk to your partner about how she sees kashrut. I am also a convert to Judaism and I have found that keeping kosher is a way that I am able to affirm my choice and commitment to being a Jew each and every day. I was the one to make our kitchen strictly kosher, not my Jew by birth husband. You might find useful the first chapter of the book by Samuel Dresner “Keeping Kosher: a Diet for the Soul (A Newly Revised Edition of The Jewish Dietary Laws):
http://tinyurl.com/2uhnr5b

(or if the above link doesn’t work go to http://books.google.com and search on “dresner dietary”)

I read an earlier version of this little book and found the first chapter called “The Problem of Understanding” quite interesting. I had already taken on the commitment to keep kosher when I read it, but a lot of what was said resonated with my feelings toward kashrut. You might also find that the summaries of the various laws of kashrut are helpful to you.

It will take a little getting used to on your part to think about your use of kitchenware so as not to accidentally treif items by using them with the wrong type of food. On the other hand, by your efforts, your partner will know how much you are willing to do on her behalf. It made me feel truly loved that my husband went along with the kashering of our kitchen because it made me happy.

I will add something to Benjamin’s comment: although your guests can eat at your home regardless of whether or not they keep kosher, one difficulty is that you might not be able to allow your non-kosher guests to make and bring home-cooked food to be served at your home. Recently, for Thanksgiving, my cousin (who happens to be married to a non-observant Jew) really wanted to make desserts to bring (and she is a fantastic cook having even taken a professional chefs course). I told her she didn’t have to bring anything, but since she was game, I went through a very detailed description of what she would have to do to cook something that could eaten with my plates and utensils (self-clean the oven, disposable aluminum pans, hechshered pareve ingredients, etc….)

On the other hand, for my family, going to a strictly kosher kitchen made entertaining more easy in general because we have so many friends who keep kosher. Even before I kashered our kitchen and bought a lot of new stuff, we did have a full set of kosher-Dairy only cookware, plates, and utensils to accommodate those friends.

December 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm #5282

Jodi

Thanks to both of you for your patient and kind responses. I greatly appreciate your feedback, and you both made very valid points in your replies.
I will be sure to discuss with my partner. I want to support whatever it is she feels happy doing, and I also know that she is flexible as well. Thanks so much and Happy Hanukkah to you both!

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